Reminiscences of “World Famous Tom Murphy”: The KISN Years (Part 2)

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Legends, Friends & the Radio Life….

This is the second in a three part series of personal reminiscences as told by “World Famous Tom Murphy.”  (If you have yet to read Part 1 of Tom’s story, click here). This installment features a candid view of radio and Rock ‘n’ Roll legends — The Real Don Steele, Paul Revere and The Raiders, The Kingsmen and many of Tom’s 91-derful KISN friends. Murphy is a well-known jock who worked at several major market radio stations across the country. In the Pacific Northwest he ranks as a favorite son — incredibly popular with an unheard  58 share in the Feb/Mar 1963 Pulse Ratings — at KISN in Portland-Vancouver.  Tom’s reputation grew at KNEW/KJRB in Spokane and at KJR & KOL in Seattle. Many photos and airchecks included in this series are from Tom’s personal collection.

Tom’s friend and former colleague, Gary “Shannon” Burleigh in Seattle, assisted with this article. Your editor is Steven L. Smith of Puget Sound Media.

Tiger Tom Murphy at KISN

Some KISN Legends

The Real Don Steele

“I remember when The Real Don Steele was en route to be my boss (program director) at KISN.  Don’s move to Portland and his promotion to PD were written up in the national press.

“Unfortunately, Broadcasting Magazine was close, but they didn’t get it quite right. Don didn’t transfer between two of Don Burden’s Star Stations (click here to read more about Star Stations). Steele didn’t go directly from Omaha to Portland — there was a detour along the way. First Steele stopped at KXLY in Spokane, WA. One of his competitors across town was my friend, Larry Lujack, who was on-air at KNEW before those call letters were moved out of Spokane to the Bay Area in ’66. Larry once told me: ‘I thought to myself that this Steele guy was way too good for Spokane.’ That’s a nice compliment, especially so coming from none other than Larry Lujack. Steele came to Portland when Burden hired him away from KXLY. However, the clipping above is sort of correct: Steele had not long before worked at KOIL in Omaha. That was the location of the Star Stations’ headquarters and Steele did know Don Burden. In addition to KXLY and KISN, early in Real Don’s career, he worked in two other Pacific Northwest radio markets — Kennewick (KEPR) and Yakima (KIMA) — both cities are in Washington State.

Pat Pattee did Nightwatch from the transmitter

“KISN radio was prominent in Portland, renowned for its plush downtown studio and sales office at the busy corner of 10th and Burnside. In reality much of the programming didn’t originate from the downtown studio. Several of the newsmen and jocks, including yours truly, periodically (or regularly depending on various factors) broadcast from a studio at the station’s Smith Lake transmitter site. The FCC had mandated that 51% of KISN’s programming had to be of local origin. Content originated from the transmitter qualified as such. Broadcasts from the downtown Portland studio did not, so we switched back and forth.

“That idiosyncrasy of life-lived-at-KISN leads to a Real Don Steele story. Sunday was my day off: I was footloose and fancy free. Don, on the other hand, did a Sunday evening shift from the transmitter studio.  When his show ended around midnight, usually we would meet at the downtown studio and head for the ‘Fish Grotto.’  It was a Portland landmark restaurant for more than 100 years. Of greater importance than that bit of Portland culinary history, the Fish Grotto was KISN’s official ‘watering hole.’ Inevitably, Don and I would put away a few cocktails. Then, ‘fully sober’ of course, we would get on the Banfield Freeway (now I- 84) and drag race all the way home. Don drove a gigantic ’62 Cadillac, which probably weighed more than the passenger ship the Queen Mary. I had a brand new ’64 Pontiac Grand Prix with the big engine. I always beat The Real Don Steele home and that ticked him off and he used to gripe about it.”

Editor’s note: The Real Don Steele, or “The Emperor of North America” as he called himself, liked cars. That was evident to his listeners. Steele’s afternoon drive time show featured his fast talking, loud, brash and exciting delivery. Cars and driving were a big part of his on-air persona.

The Real Don Steele, ‘The Emperor.’ July 1964 (Run Time 1:23)

About Tina Delgado Being Alive

“The ‘Tina Delgado is alive, alive!!!!’ bit is one that I remember well. It became indelibly melded into our memories of Don Steele. Don went so far as to release a 45 single dedicated to Tina Delgado. Rumor is even his wife didn’t know the origin and the ‘spiritual’ meaning of the ‘Tina Delgado’ thing. One suggestion, as to its origin, came from the late Ron Jacobs — former PD at KHJ where Steele attained great fame.”

“Tina Delgado was a woman in Portland, OR where Steele was working (at KISN). The local newspaper had printed an obituary for a Tina Delgado and then a few days later they retracted the story. Tina was found to be very much alive. So Steele grabbed on to it and ran with it.” (From ‘KHJ: Inside Boss Radio’ by Ron Jacobs)

Don and I were good friends

“I was there at KISN with Don Steele and these are my thoughts on the matter: Maybe Ron Jacobs’ story is correct, but if so I don’t know anything about it. And Don and I were very close. We hung out together in Portland. On the other hand, I wasn’t all that curious or interested in Tina Delgado. I don’t recall ever asking Don about her. To me she/it was just a ‘drop-in’ on a cart that he played sometimes. I never expected the ‘war cry’ or ‘battle cry’ as he called it, to become such a recognizable and whimsical mystery from the halcyon days of Top 40 radio. I know that the female voice was different in Portland vs. in LA. In Portland a female KISN employee, with a voice that appealed to Don, belted out ‘Tina Delgado is alive, alive!!’ When he moved to LA, Don and Ron Jacobs had it re-recorded from the large talent pool of voice-over artists and wannabe Hollywood stars. The LA version is the more recognizable of the two. The drop-ins had the effect Don wanted — people were asking who in hell is this Tina Delgado person. Actually, it seemed to have the intended impact on everyone but me. I guess I just wasn’t paying enough attention. Had I known sixty years ago that people would still be asking questions about Tina Delgado in the 21st Century, I probably would have asked more questions back when Don and I were sitting at the Fish Grotto.”

Editor’s note: For comparative purposes, below are two versions of the Tina Delgado battle cry — first the female voice from Portland, and then the more famous female voice from LA.

Tina Delgado Voices: #1 Portland drop-in; #2 LA version (Run Time 1:02)

Steele’s Presidential Campaign
Don was running for President, and we almost got arrested by traffic cops!

 “The Don Steele for President Campaign, which took place in the era of LBJ running against Goldwater, has been well documented in photos (click here). During Don’s so-called run for POTUS, he and I did a remote broadcast while standing on the ‘Steel’ bridge. Don incorporated Portland’s old ‘Steel’ Bridge into his campaign. Why? It had a catchy name for a bridge, especially so if your on-air last name was ‘Steele.’ To Don the old rugged bridge was a symbol of his campaign. He claimed to have the strongest ‘platform’ of any candidate running and the Steel Bridge symbolized strength — it was the only bridge over the Willamette River that could support train traffic. During our remote on the ‘Real Don Steele Bridge,’ Don wore his Uncle Sam outfit. Most folks haven’t heard this part of the story, but our remote came to a screeching halt when a Portland traffic cop ordered us off the bridge. We were, according to the cop, disrupting traffic and he threatened to arrest us if we didn’t stand down. We left on our own, not wanting to be shackled in chains. Working with Don Steele was a gas. After our shared time at KISN, we never worked together again. That is too bad, because both of us spent several years in LA radio. Over the years we managed to stay in touch with one another… until Don’s passing in 1997.

Don’s Hollywood Star
 Paul Revere & The Raiders, Roger Hart and The Kingsmen

“Back in the sixties, in cities large and small, we radio jocks supplemented our radio salaries by promoting teen dances and concerts. The best known promoters in the Pacific Northwest were Pat O’Day and Dick Curtis in Seattle. However, Portland had KISN deejays Roger Hart and Tiger Tom Murphy. Even before Paul Revere and The Raiders became a national phenom, Roger quit KISN and dedicated his time to promoting and managing the band.  In that role, he had huge success.  Paul Revere and The Raiders became one of the most popular American bands of their era. Between 1961 and 1973, no fewer than 21 of their singles made it on to the Billboard charts.

(L) Hart and Murphy promoted concerts; (R) Raiders in Seattle. I’m in the corner, working at KJR mid-sixties
Two matinee idols! With Mark at KJR in the ’60s… after ‘Kicks’ and the big hits

“I go back to the early sixties with these guys. I knew, and was friendly with all of them. Roger and I promoted their shows and hired the band to play dances before they were stars. It was lead singer, Mark Lindsay, who ended up being my closest friend. That introduction leads to a Mark Lindsay story. It was Christmas time, 1964, Mark was stuck in Portland. He had planned on driving to Idaho to visit family and friends for Christmas. But the flooding back home was such that he decided to stay in Portland. The Raiders had a few days off during Christmas. Mark chose to spend that time hanging out with me at KISN. Then, after my evening show, we went out to get a bite to eat. On one occasion, he mentioned that he was thinking about giving up the whole “Raiders” thing. Remember, 1964 predates their stardom. It was a struggle on the road, having to go between small shows and dance gigs without making much money. Mark told me at the time he had decided to give it six more months. And if life on the road didn’t improve, he would quit the band and do something else. A few days later, Paul Revere and The Raiders performed at KISN’s 1964 New Year’s Eve dance and then they went back out on the road.

Roger Hart and Paul Revere

“In the spring of 1965, with Roger Hart as their manager, the group cut a deal with Dick Clark Productions that made them the House Band on ‘Where the Action Is.’  Below is an archival video, dated September 16, 1966, with Paul Revere & The Raiders performing their version of the Pacific Northwest favorite ‘Louie Louie.’

Of course, that big break with Clark Productions resulted in huge success for the group. So, suffice to say, Mark had met his six month deadline. Things were very different contrasting Christmas ’65 with Christmas ’64. Come the holiday season in ’65, ‘Just Like Me’ was #11 on the Billboard National Chart and ‘Kicks’ was on the way. When the guys began on ‘Where the Action Is’ they performed a lot of covers, but before long The Raiders’ success led to a catalog of original hits. Here’s a list of their biggest Top 40 smashes: ‘Just Like Me,’ ‘Kicks,’ ‘Hungry,’ ‘The Great Airplane Strike,’ ‘Good Thing,’ ‘Him or Me,’ ‘Ups and Downs,’ ‘Let Me’, ‘Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon’ and ‘Indian Reservation’ (Billboard Magazine #1 single). Come mid-1967, The Raiders had been awarded three gold albums and Columbia Records designated the group as the label’s top-selling rock band. Then in 1971, ‘Indian Reservation’ became Columbia’s biggest selling single of all time (over six million copies sold) and that milestone lasted for almost a decade. Not surprisingly, the music of Paul Revere and the Raiders lives on:  In the summer of 2019, Quentin Tarantino’s movie, ’Once Upon a Time In Hollywood’ and its soundtrack feature three Raider’s tracks – ‘Hungry,’ ‘Good Thing’ and ‘Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon.’

“In 1966, I was a KJR jock and I felt honored when Roger and The Raiders asked me to write liner notes for their latest album. ‘In the Beginning’ featured some of the band’s earliest recordings. There were covers of Big Joe Turner, Elvis, Hank Ballard, Bobby Darin and other originators of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Working at radio stations, where your friends included Paul Revere and The Raiders, was pretty exciting stuff!

“Over the years, as I pursued radio and Mark did his music, we stayed in touch and always tried to get together when he was in Seattle or LA. Today Mark has a fan website and posts regularly on Facebook. Roger Hart’s relationship with Paul Revere and The Raiders lasted for the entirety of Paul Revere’s lifetime. Paul passed in 2014. As for Roger and me, we have kept in contact. I always made a point of seeing him when I visited Portland, but I don’t get the chance to do that much anymore. We Email back and forth from time to time.”

Editor’s note: Paul Revere and his Raiders appeared on all of the big music and variety TV shows of the day: Ed Sullivan, The Smothers Brothers, Milton Berle, Hollywood Palace, Shindig and Hullabaloo. Here’s a short video montage of some of those TV performances highlighting many of the band’s greatest hits.

“Even though the story is familiar, it is difficult to talk about the early Raiders without bringing up the song ‘Louie Louie’ and Portland’s famous garage band The Kingsmen. Fellow KISN jock, Ken Chase, was another entrepreneur and he owned a teen dance club called the Chase.  The Kingsmen became the house band there and Ken agreed to manage the group. ‘Louie Louie’ was a staple of The Kingsmen’s performance repertoire. They first heard the Richard Berry penned song on a jukebox (a cover by The Wailers with Robin Roberts). In spring ’63, Ken Chase purchased one hour of studio recording time. That session is now legend: lead singer Jack Ely was way off mic, he had braces on his teeth and uttered mostly unintelligible lyrics, verses and timing were off. Regardless, the record rose to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to #1 on competing Cashbox charts. Even today, ‘Louie Louie’ by The Kingsmen is in the running for the title of ‘America’s favorite party song.’ You can’t go to major and minor league baseball games in the Pacific Northwest without hearing it during the seventh inning stretch. The band had a number of other releases, but by far their classic was ‘Louie Louie.’

The early days: Kingsmen (L to R) Dan Gallucci, Jack Ely, Lynn Easton, Mike Mitchell, and Bob Norby

“A week later, Roger Hart arranged for The Raiders to record their version of ‘Louie Louie.’ The Kingsmen version soared nationally and The Raiders’ version was a regional hit. In an interview, Mark Lindsay said:  ‘Back in the early sixties, we were the craziest, wildest band that ever happened. Our act caught the attention of Columbia Records, becoming the first rock band signed to the label. There was only one problem. Mitch Miller, the ‘Sing Along  with Mitch’ guy, head of A&R at Columbia, despised Rock ‘n’ Roll and thought that if he waited a couple years, the fad would pass and he’d get back to what he’d call real music. Mitch was pressured by the label to sign a rock band, but he still controlled what was promoted and what wasn’t.’ Mitch held back on releasing The Raiders’ version when he saw it was an emerging hit on the West Coast. In the music and entertainment business timing is everything, and The Raiders missed out that go around. 

“I first got to know The Kingsmen in the early ’60s. They were barely out of High School and were appearing locally at dances and events. They worked some KISN events and were quite good and very reliable. Before their big hit, sometimes I was paid a higher fee to introduce the group than what band members were paid. I would show up and say: ‘Here are The Kingsmen.’ They would play their hearts out for a half hour or longer and then I would come back and say something like, ‘Let’s hear It for The Kingsmen.’  After ‘Louie Louie’ hit the airwaves, rightfully so, any remuneration disparity between me and the band came to an abrupt end. They were paid more!

“Shortly after ‘Louie Louie’ became a hit, lead singer Jack Ely left the group. Lynn Easton, who was the leader/owner of the band, assumed the role of lead singer. Back then it was standard on TV shows for singers to lip sync to their records. Many archival videos, from the early to mid-sixties, captured Easton lip syncing to Ely’s vocal. In this case, the band’s appearance on Shindig, they are apparently doing it live or at least not lip syncing to the infamous studio recording.

 

3 Begonias

“Lynn Easton told me that in the summer of ’64, the group toured with the Beach Boys. He said Brian Wilson brought along a portable EKG machine and he would, somehow or another, hook it up to the stems of plants with the goal being to see what kind of patterns emerged on the read out. I have wondered if this did anything at all — was Brian actually able to see and use any of his EKG results? I had forgotten all about this odd tale until ‘Good Vibrations’ came out. I looked at the label and it read ‘Vocal Arrangements by Brian Wilson and 3 Begonias.’ That was a pretty incredible and innovative song, so maybe there was something to that EKG business! Sometimes real life can be stranger than fiction.

“The Kingsmen played when The KISN Good Guys were inducted into the Oregon Museum Hall of Fame in 2018. Terry Currier, owner of ‘Music Millennium’ — a nationally recognized independent record store in Portland — and a member of the Hall of Fame arranged for our induction and that of official KISN photographer, Gino Rossi (more on Dino later). KISN radio was honored for its role in promoting local and regional musicians. Since Kingsman original band member Mike Mitchell, and almost original member Dick Peterson, were friends of mine and I was one of the first generation of KISN jocks, I introduced the band at the ceremony.  At the time, I joked that only twice in my lifetime had I ever been inducted into anything. The first time was into the Oregon Air National Guard — and The Kingsmen did NOT ‘play’ at that induction ceremony. But on the night of the Oregon Museum Hall of Fame induction, they WOULD be ‘playing.’
Oregon Museum Induction: Left photo L to R- Roger Hart, Mike Mitchell (Kingsmen), Yours Truly, Terry Currier. Right photo: Terry Currier and me

“In that picture on the above right, I am wearing my original 1959 jacket that says ‘KISN Swinging 91 DJs.’  Even many KISN fans don’t know that we were the ‘Swinging 91 DJs’ before we were the KISN ‘Good Guys.’ That coat has a history. When I moved away from Portland in ’65, I left it at my home. My nephew, Bill White, ended up with it and years later he donated the jacket to a Portland record store — ‘Yesterday Records.’ The owner, Bob Gallucci, put it on display. When Bob closed the store, he moved the coat to his house. Once the Oregon Museum Hall of Fame event was in the works, he gave it to Terry Currier to ‘return’ to me as part of the ceremony. I never dreamed it was still around after all these years and I was surprised when they presented me with that jacket. Bob Gallucci has always been a good guy. Along with putting my KISN jacket on display, he used to play old airchecks and post lots of photo memorabilia in his record store.

Other KISN Friends

Johnny Williams

 “Johnny was one of my buddies at KISN. He came from Denver (had worked KICN, at that time a Star Station), and Burden transferred Johnny to KISN in late ’61. Williams did afternoon drive and he was a good jock. But Johnny was never happy in Portland or at KISN, so he headed back to Denver in ’62. His greatest fame came a few years later as the overnight jock at KHJ in LA. I didn’t stay in touch with Johnny, and we never worked together again, but I know he is living in Hawaii. When we were together, we had fun.  New Year’s 1962, the two of us had a bet: Would the first ‘Baby Born in Portland’ be a girl or a boy. I guessed a boy and I won. Since he lost the bet, Johnny had to hand wash dirty diapers (actually faux dirty diapers) while he was standing in the KISN Corner window. Take a look at the photo below. He also came up with a  great promotion, involving yours truly, and I will describe it in Part 3 of this series.

(Left) Johnny taking requests; (Right) Johnny is working with a washtub and dirty diapers, meanwhile I am laughing behind his back!
Tom Michaels

“I met the late Tom Michaels in 1961 when he visited me at KISN. Tom was a student at Lewis & Clark College and worked at the campus radio station. His KISN debut was as the deejay known as ‘Murphy’s Buddy’ or ‘Tom Murphy’s Buddy.’ When Uncle Sam called me off to Air National Guard active duty in Texas, Tom Michaels covered my fulltime air shift. Tom was my friend in real life. But when he was on-air, at least when he was filling-in for me, Michaels was always referred to as my ‘buddy’ and not as ‘Tom Murphy’s friend….as is sometimes reported.’ That odd name for Tom Michaels was station owner Don Burden’s idea. Even when I was away on military duty, Burden wanted to keep my name front and center. So Tom Michaels, the fill-in guy, was instructed to refer to himself as ‘Murphy’s Buddy.’ When I came back from Guard duty, Michaels switched to weekends, but he still wasn’t allowed to use his real name. Burden made it known that he wanted the whole weekend to be called ‘KISN’s Wonderful Weekend.’ So Tom got stuck with that long and cumbersome moniker. Sometimes he identified himself as ‘The Spirit of Wonderful Weekend.’ Eventually, Tom Michaels was allowed to use his real name on-the-air. Michaels became PD of KISN and, for many years, he was one of the best production and voice over guys in Oregon. My relationship with Tom continued on after our KISN days. I always saw him when I visited Portland. I last talked with Tom at the 1997 KISN Reunion. Sadly, he died unexpectedly in 1999.

Bill Howlett
Bill and I recording a bit. That’s my back in the photo

“The late Bill Howlett, who passed away in 1984, was a WWII veteran and a former newspaperman, who chose to work in radio instead. Before KVAN became KISN, Howlett ran a request and dedication show on KVAN — ‘Uncle Bill’s Bandstand.’ For years after, many of us still called him ‘Uncle Bill.’ He had a First Phone FCC License and that destined Bill to be posted at the KISN transmitter site — the station had a directional pattern that required nighttime supervision by a First Phone operator. The first evening newsman to be based at  KISN’s transmitter was Loren Hassett. He left in 1960 and Bill was hired to do the evening news. (He remained at that job until KISN went off the air in ’76.) ‘Uncle Bill’ became a good friend of mine and together we collaborated on various projects. Two that come to mind were ‘Meet Your Neighbor” and ‘Young Dr. Frisbee.’ ‘Neighbor’ was a series of fictional and humorous spoof interviews with several hapless characters and odd ball experts. Bill and I did all of the voices. (Click here to listen to the episode titled ‘Birdwatcher.’) ‘Doc Frisbee,’ the second radio series we wrote and produced, was a spinoff of the ever popular TV genre of medical shows. Our star was a clueless and not too smart young M.D.  It was really fun working with Bill. We were close and kept in touch until his passing.

ROR

“Before I introduce you to the most important person I ever met at KISN, let me tell you about the least important person I ever met at KISN. Actually, my friend ROR wasn’t anatomically a person at all. He was the transmitter site cat. ROR’s full name was ‘Rough on Rats,’ aptly named by Bill Howlett. You might say ROR was a ‘rodent intervention’ specialist. This feline took up residence at the transmitter in the early sixties. He was also an unanticipated addition to our announcing staff. I remember a couple of times hearing ROR yowling, howling and meowing in the background as Bill read the news. ROR was one tough old boy and he looked like a Maine Coon Cat. He didn’t stay with us for very long, but when ROR was hanging around, that cat was an amusing and cherished member of the KISN family.

ROR guards the Ampex against rodents
Contest Connie & Me

“Absolutely the most important person I ever met at KISN was my future wife Connie. She answered the KISN contest line in summer of ’64 and I gave her the nickname ‘Contest Connie.’ She didn’t love the name, but she tolerated me. We dated for a year and then we were married on the not yet infamous date September 11th, but back in ’65. And for the record we are still married today!

“World Famous” & Connie (a few years back)
Gino Rossi

“Of all my friends from KISN, the person I have known the longest is Gino Rossi. He was never a radio personality, but he’s one hell of a photographer. In the days of our youth, Gino lived up the street from me in Portland. We have been friends since I was 11 and he was 10. In KISN’s early years, during a jock meeting, Don Burden announced he was looking for an official KISN photographer. I said a friend of mine took pictures and he would do a good job. Burden liked my suggestion and that is when Gino became the KISN photographer. Most of the KISN photos found online and in this article (and for sure the best ones you will see), were shot by Gino. Later Roger Hart contracted with him to serve as the photographer for Paul Revere and The Raiders. Gino was responsible for their LP cover photos and publicity shots. Gino also traveled with a number of popular sixties’ bands and he had outstanding photo opportunities.  Many photos of Rock ‘n` Roll royalty can be attributed to Gino and his camera. He and I are still in contact — just a couple weeks ago he helped me locate that picture of ROR the transmitter cat. Below is Gino’s incredible photo of the Beatles. He was there, in Vancouver B.C. back in 1964. Iconic photos don’t get much better than this one.”

The Beatles (Gino Rossi photo)

That Beatle Guy

Editor’s note: Tom is modest about his role, and downplays it, but he was key in introducing The Beatles to the City of Roses. In a 2014 retrospective article on Beatlemania, the Beaverton Valley Times wrote:

“A continent away in Portland, Tiger Tom Murphy became known as ‘the Beatle guy’ for Portland on KISN 91 AM. He anticipated Beatlemania because of the popularity of early releases. ‘KISN was playing the hell out of the records,’ says Murphy. Murphy, as the Beatles guy, would play their songs and report news. I would say, ‘And, here’s the latest on The Beatles …. like I was in touch with (manager) Brian Epstein or something. It lit a fire under the radio station and got a lot of attention for us.”  (Click here to read the original newspaper story.)

Tom says: “I recall that article. It pretty well covers everything ‘Beatles.’  I DO know I had heard ‘From Me To You’ somewhere in fall of ’63 and we played it on KISN. I didn’t really know anything about the group except they were from England, and I liked the song. I don’t remember if we charted it on the FAB FIFTY, but I am inclined to think we didn’t. In ’64, when the KISN deejays were promoting the release of ‘Meet the Beatles’ guess which jock didn’t need a wig to capture that Beatle look?”

(Bottom of ladder to top): Me, no wig; Don Steele; Frank Benny; Jack Sunday. That’s a rep from Capitol Records on the right

Editor’s note: Rummaging through the audio archives, I find that Tom definitely provided his listeners with plenty of Beatles’ music and trivia. Below is a scoped and edited down aircheck that originally encompassed a couple hours of Tom’s evening show. His ability to connect with listeners, along with his charisma and humor, shine through in this 1965 aircheck. It was recorded shortly before Tiger Tom left KISN.

That Beatle Guy Live, 1965 (Run Time 8:51)

Gary Bruno was known as Jack Sunday at KISN and as Gary Taylor at KJRB and KJR. He remembers working with Tom. “I first met Tiger Tom in 1963 when I was just a few months out of college.  I did weekends at KISN while waiting to get into grad school at University of Oregon. Tom left KISN for LA in ’65 and around that same time I was appointed PD at Spokane’s KNEW (shortly thereafter the call letters were changed to KJRB). One day, probably late ’65, Tom called and said he was looking for work. That was a surprise since Tom was a great jock. I wanted to hire him, so I cleared it with corporate. Pat O’Day, at sister station KJR in Seattle, had the last word on our programming. His reaction was: ‘Shit Gary what a find.’ That clinched it, I hired Tom Murphy for mornings.  On his first day, Tom showed up with his Beatle haircut and wearing Beatle boots and a flower print shirt. The GM was caught off guard by the new jock’s appearance. And knowing nothing about Tom’s talent, he totally freaked out. The guy was so upset, and so overreacted, that he actually canned me for ‘hiring a hippy.’ Ultimately, it wasn’t the crisis it seemed to be. Once again, I called Pat O’Day at corporate. He smoothed over the ruffled feathers and I was ‘unfired’ and Tom slid into mornings. I am sorry to say, he wasn’t with us very long though.  As soon as O’Day had an opening, he grabbed Tom for the evening shift at KJR.”

Pat O’Day

Recently, Pat O’Day told Puget Sound Media that he is pleased that he hired Tom Murphy. Pat said: “Tom is totally unique in the radio world. He doesn’t have a great big thunderous voice, nor is he a rapid, cutting edge speaker. What is he? He’s a kind, enormously fun guy, who talks to people, and connects with them through the microphone, in an unusual and very personal way. As such, listeners by the thousands become his close and loving friends. In my opinion, and I was his boss for many years so I know Tom well, he remains one of the top 50 radio personalities of all time.”

On those flattering words from one radio legend, who was speaking about another legend, we are signing off on Oart 2 of this series on Tom Murphy’s time at KISN. More memories from Tom Murphy will be coming your way soon. In Part 3 of ‘The KISN Years,’ Tom talks about his early days in radio, starting out as a teenage DJ at a carrier current station owned by a teenage friend. From there, he describes his transition into commercial radio and landing a job at KISN. A highlight of the series will be his funny tales of the outrageous and memorable happenings that took place when he was working in the now famous ‘KISN Window on the World.’

Until next time, here’s a recording of Tom’s KISN theme song. This goes back to 1960. When Tom heard it once again after all these years, his first thought was: “Hmmm, I noticed that it faded out. Actually, it had a cold ending. Oh well, something left of it is better than nothing at all.”

Tom Murphy Theme 1960

The third installment of Tom Murphy’s Radio Diary is now available. It is the story of Tom’s formative years from high school to KISN. You can read it by clicking here.

Credits and acknowledgments: Stumptown BloggerKISN Good Guy Radio; PDX Media; DJ Master Control; Radio Disc Jockey.homestead.com; Gino Rossi photographer — the majority of the photos in this article are from Gino’s collection; Gary ‘Shannon’ Burleigh, Gary Bruno, Les Parsons and William Ogden.

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Author: Steven Smith

Presently editor and historical writer with Puget Sound Media in Seattle. Former radio broadcaster and radio station owner, 1970-1999. Journalism and speech communications degrees. I enjoy researching articles and online reporting that allows me to meld together words, audio and video. P.S. I appreciate and encourage reader comments and opinions.

2 thoughts on “Reminiscences of “World Famous Tom Murphy”: The KISN Years (Part 2)

  1. Hi, Tom,
    This diary of yours is a wonderful archive, and absolutely fantastic history. Thanks. I found this website when I was writing a little memorial to Pat O’Day, who just passed away at the age of 85. I was reminded of a wonderful experience I had in the 1970s I think. You were working for KRLA broadcasting out of Pasadena’s Huntington Sheraton Hotel. I heard you on the air, and being a great of you from your KJR and KOL days, I called the station and through dumb luck was transferred to your phone. You were very gracious and invited me to the station. I sat in the control room with you for well over an hour and had a delightful conversation with you while you were on the air. What struck me most was the just the feeling of power you had. Every time you keyed open the mic, you were talking to hundreds of thousands of listeners. I have never forgotten it. I wanted to add to your diary that I also had the fortune to see Mark Lindsay perform in a solo act in 2018 at band shell in Pasadena. He was incredible. Still had his famous cue of hair down his back. I remember his say with great humility. “I am proud to say that I sang the lead on every one of Paul Revere and the Raiders hits.” It was a magical night. He was still on top of his game. The crowd went wild. After the show he stayed for half an hour signing autographs and chatting with fans. Both of you guys were very important parts of my young life. Thank you so much!

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